March 24, 1951: Refugees from Greece Arrive in Chicago

A group of “displaced persons” arrive from Greece at Union Station in Chicago, after their arrival from the east coast following a 21-day boat trip across the Atlantic.

Their arrival was ultimately delayed due to a growing anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States that targeted Greeks and other Southeastern Europeans who were considered “unfit” to be Americans due to their countries’ strong communist leanings and Americans not wanting to “import” their home country’s problems that would come with admitting refugees.

Several members of Congress, especially members from the deep south and rural Midwest states, were vehemently opposed to allowing entry to Greeks. Some cited medical threats and claimed that Greeks would infest the country with Malaria and other diseases, while others claimed that the incoming refugees would take American jobs.

In the photo on the right, with portfolio, is George Rendas, the Chairman of local D.P. committee for Chicago, seen greeting the arriving Displaced Persons from Greece. He has been an ardent advocate for the rights of D.P.s, arguing that the United States has always been a beacon for the poor and destitute.

In center of picture is girl with roses, Eftihia Konstantelos, 20, who arrived from Kastri, Greece— one of the refugees who were welcomed to the United States after years of war and suffering in Greece.

A Chicago Tribune newspaper article from 1951 outlines U.S. government plans to admit Displaced Persons from Greece and Italy.

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